The much-anticipated matchup between Alabama and Texas A&M in College Station takes place on Saturday and the Aggies expect to be at full strength on defense thanks to the return of several suspended starters.
Cornerback De’Vante Harris, linebacker Steven Jenkins, and defensive end Gavin Stansbury will play after serving two-game suspensions for violating team rules. Also back will be corner Deshazor Everett, who sat out the first half of the last game against Sam Houston State due to a targeting penalty the previous week. Everett, if you recall, intercepted an AJ McCarron pass to secure last season’s win over the Tide.
The Aggies have missed having their full complement of players so far this season and have shown to be quite leaky on defense. Sam Houston State had a touchdown run of 68 yards and a TD pass of 75 yards on Saturday. Rice had 509 yards of offense against Texas A&M in week one.
On the bright side, the Aggies improved their depth on defense by giving quality minutes to reserves who don’t usually get them. Young players who might’ve developed slowly otherwise were thrown into the mix. This should pay dividends down the road if any injuries or targeting suspensions occur.
The real winners in this, though, are the fans, who’ll get to see two high-powered teams go at it toe-to-toe without an asterisk next to the final score.
Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.
Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.
And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.
“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”
Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.
You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season? Watch lists are being whittled.
The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior. The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.
The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).
The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten. The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).
Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah